Last month, our Platte River Prairies crew visited a South Dakota farm owned by our friends Gerry Steinauer and Grace Kostel. Gerry showed us around the farm, including some prairies he and Grace have been trying to rehabilitate. It was late afternoon, and scattered fluffy clouds and golden prairie grasses made for a beautiful backdrop for our hike.
Even though wildflower blooming season is over for the year, there is still plenty to see in autumn prairies. Fluffy white seeds of goldenrods and asters fly into the sky as we walk by. Migrating sparrows pop out of the grass but quickly drop back down, giving us just enough time to make wild guesses about species identification. Harriers course back and forth above the tall grasses, making flight look effortless and wonderful. In every patch of short sparse vegetation, grasshoppers gather to soak up as much sun as they can before their season ends with the first hard freeze. That freeze is yet to come, but the chill in the morning air leaves no doubt that it’s just around the corner.